Victoria bans Nazi swastika in state to fight hate speech

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It will soon be illegal in Victoria to post Nazi material.

Victoria will become the first state in Australia to ban the Nazi swastika in response to a worrying increase in neo-Nazi activity.

The government announced Thursday that it would ban the display of all Nazi symbols, making it illegal for residents to display the material.

The ban will come into effect in early 2022 with the aim of tackling hate speech and discriminatory behavior.

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Attorney General Jaclyn Symes said the state’s anti-defamation protections would also be extended beyond race and religion to include sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and HIV status.

“All forms of hatred are unacceptable and have no place in Victoria, and this sends a clear message that this despicable behavior will not be tolerated,” said Ms Symes.

“We will make sure to consult widely with the community and affected groups to get the right parameters before making any legislative changes.”

The state has increasingly recorded reports of hate speech and behavior in the Victoria and Melbourne areas.
The state has increasingly recorded reports of hate speech and behavior in the Victoria and Melbourne areas.

The state has increasingly recorded reports of hate speech and behavior in the Victoria and Melbourne areas.

The display of Nazi symbolism in public has increased noticeably since last year, including reports of a swastika displayed on a car in Bendigo, flags raised in the regional towns of Kyabram and Beulah, on the hat a commuter train in Melbourne, as well as graffiti on a CBD tree.

There are also fears that hatred has spread through organized groups, after dozens of white supremacists gathered in the Grampians in January chanting white power and “Heil Hitler” slogans.

A Nazi swastika is seen engraved on the front of the Victoria State Parliament.  Photo: AAP Image / David Crosling
A Nazi swastika is seen engraved on the front of the Victoria State Parliament. Photo: AAP Image / David Crosling

A parliamentary committee earlier this year called for a ban on symbolism amid growing hatred.

The report, which contained 36 recommendations, was tabled in March after an eight-month investigation.

Committee chair Natalie Suleyman said the investigation revealed a lack of awareness of Victorian anti-defamation laws and frustration at their ineffectiveness.

“We have heard evidence of an increase in racial threats and defamation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, particularly directed against Asian communities in Victoria, in addition to the Jewish community,” a- she declared.

“Symbolically, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act establishes the standards of appropriate behavior for a harmonious and multicultural society.

“But there is a question about its ability to address the growing problem of hate crimes in Victoria, particularly for First Nations, multicultural and multi-faith groups, women, LGBTIQ +, people with disabilities and other minority groups. “

Premier Daniel Andrews supported the changes.  Photo: Daniel Pockett / Getty Images
Premier Daniel Andrews supported the changes. Photo: Daniel Pockett / Getty Images

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has expressed his support for the changes.

“There is no place for these points of view, there is no place for these symbols, there is no place for these attitudes and conduct in a modern Victoria,” he said. he declares.

Dvir Abramovich of the Anti-Defamation Commission.  Photo: David Geraghty / The Australian.
Dvir Abramovich of the Anti-Defamation Commission. Photo: David Geraghty / The Australian.

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich welcomed the announcement, calling it a day for the history books.

“This is a joyful and profound moment which represents the culmination of a personal campaign that I have waged over the past four years, and I will be lying if I do not admit to shedding tears of joy,” said Dr. Abramovich.

“Above all, this announcement is a resounding triumph for the victims of the Holocaust, the survivors and our brave diggers who died to defeat the evil Third Reich regime, and a defeat for the local neo-Nazis who seek to preserve the Hitler’s legacy.

“Well done to the government for rising to the challenge and declaring in a clear and unequivocal voice that the ultimate emblems of inhumanity and racism, meant to break our spirits and instill fear, will never find refuge in our state. “

rhiannon.tuffield@news.com.au

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